Saturday, February 12, 2011

Screen Gem Saturdays: Best in Show

Christopher Guest and his repertory team of comedians have made a number movies that follow a similar formula of pseudo-documentary. With much of the dialogue and situations ad-libbed, many of Guest’s movies tend to ramble and lose steam early. Some of these include “Spinal Tap,” “Waiting for Guffman,” and “A Mighty Wind.” I have tried to like all of those and they just lost me. “Best in Show”, the story of five dogs and their owners/trainers preparing for the Mayflower Kennel Club Dog Show, is the exception.

Every scene with Jane Lynch and Jennifer Coolidge is pure gold. Married to a rich older man, some have said that Coolidge’s situation in the movie is modeled after Anna Nichole Smith. True or not, Coolidge makes it her own, and I found myself looking forward to every one of her appearances.

Catherine O’Hara and Eugene Levy follow with a close second in my book as being the most funny. O’Hara plays Levy’s wife with a very loose past, demonstrated by the former lovers that weave in and out of the story, expressing what a great time she used to be, much to the embarrassment of the nerdy Levy who (literally) has two left feet.

As a wealthy gay couple, Michael McKean and John Michael Higgins also provide some memorable humor. Higgins’ character is outspoken and slightly bitchy, whereas McKean is more subdued. Together, they also have terrific chemistry.

Parker Posey & Michael Hitchcock add to the humor, but at times their sequences get a little uncomfortable as Posey’s character’s histrionics get to be a bit much. Nothing a little editing or better direction couldn’t have fixed.

Guest himself is the one that drags the pace of the movie down; his character adds very little and could have been cut completely, making a much tighter film. As Guest’s character drones on in hick accent to his dog, I often found myself yawing.

Overall, “Best in Show” sails along as a very smart and breezy comedy (Fred Willard will have you on the floor as the commentator at the Dog Show) that is definitely worth a watch or two.

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Major Pepperidge said...

I agree with what you said about most of Christopher Guest's movies, but I really do love "Spinal Tap" (which is a Rob Reiner movie, technically)!

The Blue Parrot said...

My mother did the dog show circuit with cocker spaniels in the 70's and 80's. We took her to see the film and she agreed. It wasn't a comedy, it was a documentary! All of the people portrayed had real life counterparts in and out of the show ring.